Friday, May 4, 2012

How to grow summer squash in your garden


Tonight I was looking for some information on my zucchini plants. We know our problem is either a pollination problem or a calcium deficiency. While on YouTube I ran across this simple video that I thought was pretty good and wanted to share it with you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Life on the farm - Surprise visitor

As you approach the farm there are obstacles. Chickens, guineas, cats and other 4 legged creatures both domestic and not so domestic. It's just a way of life here and it's not uncommon to see them on the road either.

Most of the community has become quite accustom to chickens on the road and slow down, ease around them and continue on their journey.

When I come home from my 9-5 job I know that just about every single day there will one or more farm cats in the driveway or laying to the side of the driveway. They'll move when you turn in, scattering in every direction.

Today didn't seem like any different. I was turning into the driveway and looked to my right and saw, what I thought was one of our fuzzier cats. As I put the car into park I noticed it didn't move much, but that wasn't unusual. I also noticed it was a little different color than the other farm cats but I didn't think much of that either as some of them are so skiddish I don't get a chance to look at their exact  color.

I proceeded to get out of my car and saw this "cat" was breathing very deep breaths. Wow, in a deep sleep in this cool breeze I thought - until I saw the tail. It didn't have any fur.

As I approached this "cat" I noticed it's ears was quite rounded, not the typical pointed ear that a cat has. Then I realized it was a big possum. He was quite alive but not moving much. I thought he may have been grazed by a car and knowing they could have a nasty disposition and that I was in heels with open toes I left him be...and went to get John, and then watched out of the kitchen window.

John went out and found he was quite alive but agreed that he probably had been grazed by a car. John poked at him with his foot and he raised his head and hissed at him. John left him alone and we walked out to the garden area to take care of some more pending chores thinking he would be dead soon.

An hour later we went to the front and this big boy was gone. We don't know if he went to another place on the property to die or if he finally caught his breath and went on about his business.

It wouldn't surprise me if we saw him at the farm cat dinner table.

It's always something at the Rural Living farm. It's always something....

From the Bookshelf - Emeril at the Farm

Emeril is great! He cooks real food and now, he cooks with locally grown food!

We have a new selection of books for you. Please visit the Rural Living Store and browse the Bookshelf!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's a Wrap! - Turkey Pastrami and Swiss

I love to make wraps! They are quick and easy and the combinations are endless. They also hold more fresh ingredients than a typical sandwich and are easier to hold and eat.

Last night we had chicken fajita salads, huge ones and we ate every bite. Fresh veggies and smoked meats are a great combination. The problem with eating every bite is that there isn't anything left over to take to work the next day. Taking your lunch everyday is a huge cost saver and chances are you can concoct something that is every bit as delicious as your local eatery can serve up. Healthier too.

For lunch I'll have a wrap. A quick rolled up sandwich that will really hit the spot. For this edition of It's a Wrap I wanted to simply show you a trick to do with lettuce.

First I started this wrap with something sticky. If you read It's a Wrap you know why.

Next, I added some heart of romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce is so much better than Iceberg. Iceberg is an empty calorie food. You get some fiber from it but very little and it's such low calories that you are not nourishing your body. Romaine is always a better choice.

My trick? I cut out the center. It lays flatter and makes it much easier to wrap.

My flavor tomorrow? Lean Turkey Pastrami and Swiss cheese with fresh romaine, tomato and avocado seasoned with a spicy German mustard. Simple but good and very quick to fix.

What did you have for lunch today?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rural Living - Necessary Skills

From the outside looking in, it may appear that rural living is a mindless, free spirited lifestyle free from the pressures that an urban lifestyle can bring. Folks who live in ultra-populated urban settings dream of living in the country and, at times, the country folk think just the opposite. 

It's not for everyone. You must adapt and acquire some very important virtues if you are going to survive.

Being a good time manager: To live in the country you must have great time management skills for several reasons. The most important reason is because the sidewalks roll up at 5:00 every afternoon and there are very few if any businesses that stay open 24 hours. Also, these same businesses are occasionally open until noon on Saturdays and never on Sundays. Occasionally because there are too many other things to do on the weekends like Church, dinner on the grounds and fishing. You can bet that if the fish are biting some businesses won't be open at all on Saturday.  

The barber shops and beauty shops are closed on Sunday's and Monday's. Plan ahead.

Great time management skills means you have to stop your projects to go to town to buy scratch feeds, ranch cubes, meal or supplies for the next big project or groceries and food supplies for those who are not totally self-sustaining. This, or you'll drive many miles to the next largest town to get them. Careful planning with strategic steps are essential.

The Rural Living farm is in a community that is fortunate to have a 24 hour Wal-Mart with at the least, or perhaps I should say - at the most... just basic supplies.We also have a convenience store that stays open 24 hours if you need gas, beer and lottery tickets. Outside of that, you're out of luck.

Have a bucket load of patience: Patience is an acquired skill that you learn over time. It is an absolute necessity to have because you will be waiting a good part of the time. Waiting for a crop to come in, waiting for a mother to give birth, waiting for your special order to come in at the local hardware store, waiting for a part (this happens a lot), waiting for the rain to stop or start and in come cases, snow, wind, water rising and the other things the good Lord throws at you.

You'll also learn to have patience when your spouse gets frustrated, your children are cranky or you can't get cell phone coverage except in one small spot at the end of the pasture. In our neck of the woods that happens more often than not. In fact it is not unusual to drive down a county road and see a lone chair in the middle of the pasture. To those unfamiliar this odd scene this is know as the cell phone chair. You're out of luck if it rains and you don't have an umbrella.

Have a great sense of humor -  This is absolutely the most important virtue to have or you will be frustrated most of the time and be tempted to call a local realtor. Things break, fences are breached, animals get loose, other animals eat your gardens or larger crops. Tools drop and get lost especially nuts and blots and it never fails it will be the last and most important bolt that you knew you had to keep safe or you would have to wait until Monday to get it from the hardware store, praying they wouldn't have to order it. Equipment breaks, or the wind blows something over, blows something off or blows something on top of a recently completed project.

It truly is never ending but you have to learn how to laugh at it all. Laugh at yourself for deciding to live rural, laugh at what the good Lord throws at you, (or Murphy as my husband calls it), laugh at the rain and in some cases in the rain, laugh at your children as they run mindless across your acreage, laugh at silly new kittens, pretty new chicks or at the first sign of spring after a bitter winter.

And laugh as you look up at the night sky, hoping to introduce some friend from the city to the big dipper, only not being able to find it when it gets lost in the millions of other stars...

Yes, you must have all three characteristics to survive a rural lifestyle. Time management to continue to move forward on projects, patience because it's never a one weekend project and a sense of humor when nothing goes as planned. And it never will.

Monday, April 30, 2012

On being a Homesteader vs Prepper Survival

A friend of ours posted a long post on Facebook this morning that struck a cord. Our friend has been living a frugal lifestyle for a long time, learning to live on the few dollars he gets for disability and learning to recycle to create useful things.  We all could learn a thing or two from him.

He had recently watched an episode of the popular survival prepper show on television and it struck a nerve with him. It also reminded me of a comment from someone not too long ago comparing our partially self sufficient modern homestead lifestyle to a doomsday prepper, one I quickly defended.

So, what is the difference? There are many differences and they are mostly in the mindset of those who are living their chosen lifestyles.

Modern day homesteading, being partially self-sustaining or fully, off the grid, self-sustaining is like living the way our grandparents and their parents before them. It's learning to live with what you have and learning to take care of yourself by living off the land. We live similar to an Amish lifestyle but allow ourselves the privileged of some modern conveniences.

Many of us adopt this lifestyle because we know we can produce healthier food for our families now and gain the skills to take care of ourselves if the need arises. For those of us who live rural we have the added pleasure of a simpler life, free from all the chaos the big city can bring.

Homesteaders, partial or fully self sustaining are also gentle people who have had the opportunity to appreciate what Mother Nature and the good Lord gives you, are often willing to lend a hand to a family in need either with an abundance of produce or a borrowed tool or left over supplies.

Modern day Preppers however are those who are preparing for a doomsday event. Many of them stock pile store bought foods, study up on survival skills and warehouse ammo to protect their homestead from human intruders. Many Modern day Preppers also stockpile seeds but the majority of them really do not understand the earth and what challenges it can bring, something that you learn only with trial and error. It truly is a different mindset.

This isn't to say that Modern day Homesteaders don't have an abundance of ammo. Many of us do. Perhaps not enough to fill a substantial space but we do keep it on-hand. Homesteaders generally do not have ammo on-hand to protect their homestead from human intruders but we will use it on four legged intruders and occasionally to hunt food and put down an animal when there isn't any hope for a quality life. And yes, we will use it on a human intruder as a last resort.

Modern day Homesteaders are always prepared for an emergency. In our case this means generators and the ability to generate enough electricity for our water well, canned food, and equipment to preserve food if we loose electricity. We have not learned our skills for a doomsday event but rather as a lifestyle change, a healthier mind and body and, if the need ever arises, we will survive no matter what the event.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's a Wrap - Smoked Turkey breast with Garden Veggies

I love to make wraps! They are quick and easy and the combinations are endless. They also hold more fresh ingredients than a typical sandwich and are easier to hold and eat.

Tonight we had intended to grill some pork fajitas but time slipped away from us. Instead we opted for a lower calorie Smoked Turkey Breast wrap. It was delicious and I am glad we made the switch!

Smoked Turkey with Garden Veggies

1  Smart and Delicious Tomato Basil Wrap
1 tablespoon spreadable cream  cheese
Micro greens
Fresh sliced tomato
Fresh sliced Avocado
Fresh Onion, thinly sliced
1 slice swiss cheese
2 slices lean smoked turkey breast

We start with the wrap bread and spread about 1 tablespoon cream cheese on it. Note the dot at the top of the wrap. We'll get to that later.

The cream cheese is sticky and will hold the micro-greens in place. Next we place micro-greens, fresh tomato, sliced avocado and onion on top.

Then we lay 2 slices of cheese and 2 slices of smoked turkey  over the veggies. We drizzled with low calorie Ranch dressing over the final stack.

The trick to wrapping is simple. I take one side of the wrap and fold it over the wrap contents. I lay my fingers over the top of the wrap and compact the contents by gently sliding the top and contents towards me. Then I continue to roll up the wrap.This way you can get a lot of ingredients in the wrap.

Remember the cream cheese dot at the top of the wrap?  It helps "glue" the wrap together. I never make a wrap anymore without something at the top to stick the wrap together. My husband prefers I tuck in the sides and that is fine. Just tuck in the sides as your roll it up.

The meats I get to use in these wraps come from the deli counter at the super sized grocery store 30 miles away. If you ask they will let you read the labels on the packages before you purchase. The ladies at this particular store are more than happy to accommodate. We get our deli meats sliced on a number 2 slice so they are relatively thin thus reducing the sodium content and reduce the amount of meat protein yet still allow us to have the flavor.

It's a Wrap! - South Texas Brunch Wrap

I love to make wraps! They are quick and easy and the combinations are endless. They also hold more fresh ingredients than a typical sandwich and are easier to hold and eat.

The Smart and Delicious wraps are, in my opinion the best wraps on the market.  Made with Olive Oil, they are low calorie but don't have the aftertaste that some commercially made low calorie wraps have. They are pricy but worth it and they come in a variety of flavors. You can usually find them in the deli area of your major grocer. My favorite flavor is Tomato Basil. 

I also like several products that the Tastefully Simple home party ladies sell because many of them are simply dried herbs and vegetables with little to no sodium or preservatives. I love the Tomato Garlic Pesto as a seasoning in eggs. It really makes the flavor "pop".

Also, I like to keep legumes of many varieties on-hand to add as a good fiber source to our diet. Generally I have a couple of different kinds of legumes precooked and frozen in individual containers that we can pop into the microwave to warm up. You can either add them to your dish, hot or cold including salads, or roll them up in a wrap, mash them with a fork and spread them on a wrap, put them into your bullet/ninja with some olive oil and seasoning for a type of hummus to spread onto wraps or just to eat plain. Sometimes I used canned legumes but I pour them into a colander and rinse them before I use them to remove most of the sodium and also to have a pure product. 

One last thing. My measurements are usually an estimate of ingredients. I would prefer that you read my recipes as guides to ingredients than exact amounts. They are pretty close but if you add more, or less, you'll still get the same dish.


South Texas Brunch Wrap

1/3 c onion chopped
1/3 c bell pepper chopped
1/3 c fresh mushrooms chopped
2/3 c chopped lean ham
1/2 c fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 c pinto beans cooked and drained
6-8 fresh eggs
1/2 tbl  Tastefully Simple dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto Mix
3-4 slices Kraft 2% Sharp Cheddar
Smart and Delicious wraps

In a small bowl combine the eggs and Tastefully Simple seasoning. Whip as though you were making scrambled eggs. Set aside.

Spray a saute pan with non stick cooking spray, preferably the olive oil spray. Saute the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, ham and tomatoes until the bell pepper and onion are just starting to get done. Add pinto beans and stir gently just until the beans are warm.

Pour the egg mixture over the ham and veggie mixture and scramble. Once the eggs are done top with the 2% cheese and allow the cheese to melt.

Add a portion of the wrap filling to a Smart and Delicious Wrap and serve. You can also add some fresh salsa before you wrap it up.